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Asked by Krysten on September 12, 2017

Why do employers value study abroad programs so highly? Do they value them more highly than on the job experience/internships?

Answered by Phil, Hiring Expert at Merck & Co., Inc., on September 19, 2017

Hello - I don't know if study abroad experiences are generally valued "more" than internships and other types of hands-on experiences, but from an employer perspective, those types of immersive opportunities provide different kinds of experiences that I value. For example, studying in a foreign country provides a chance to see how businesses can operate outside of the United States, which is important especially for large, global companies. In addition, it gives an opportunity to immerse oneself in a different culture, and sometimes a different language, which provides its own set of unique benefits. Again, I don't know that I would value or weight one "more" than another, but they certainly do provide different types of assets and experiences. 

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Answered by Rachel, Hiring Expert at Eaton, on October 2, 2017

The answer is it depends upon the company.  If you are looking at a global company and/or one that is based outside of the United States, and the position(s) you are interested in are globally/internationally based,  then it is reasonable to assume that the employer would want someone who has this type of experience.  For a recent graduate, who is not an international student, often times study abroad opportunities are the way for employers to glean if you are capable of working in a global, non-U.S. based setting.  It shows that you are able to interact with cultures other than your own, you are able to communicate outside of your comfort zone, and/or able to speak and adapt to other languages when your native tongue may not be the dominant one. Conversely, if you are focusing on a U.S. based positon, especially an early in career role, then while that global experience may be nice, practically speaking, having an internship, and ideally more than one, in your chosen field is better preparation and makes your more competitive over other candidates.

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